BY UBON EKANEM – Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have again come under fire from the All Progressives Congress (APC) over accusations of blackmailing royal fathers in the state ahead of the governorship poll slated for November 16, 2019.
Raising the alarm in Yenagoa, the state capital, the Bayelsa State chapter of APC warned the governor and his party against desperate moves at intimidating and coercing the traditional institutions to do their selfish bidding.
Chairman of APC Contact, Reconciliation and Integration Committee, Chief Dikivie Ikiogha, said the governor and PDP must immediately refrain from using state apparatus to ambush and compel palaces of kings and traditional stools to support their candidate in the forthcoming election.
According to Chief Ikiogha, quite disturbing are skewed reports of so-called endorsements of the PDP’s flag-bearer by such revered institutions in the state.
Speaking on behalf of the opposition party, Chief Ikiogha said Bayelsa people were alarmed to read the statement by Governor Dickson’s Chief Press Secretary, Fidelis Soriwei, claiming that the PDP candidate has been endorsed by the Epie-Atissa monarch, King Malla Sasime and his Council of Chiefs.
Ikiogha, who is also a member of the Epie and Atissa councils of chiefs and member of Epie-Atissa Joint Council of Chiefs, said such unguarded statement only demonstrate complete lack of respect and desecration of traditional values by the governor and his party.
The APC chieftain stated that it was uncultured and disrespectful for Governor Dickson to bend a customary traditional protocol in a courtesy visit to score cheap political points.
He said their action only points to the fact that Governor Dickson and the PDP, having suddenly realised their failures in the state and the imminent harsh judgment reserved for them at the polls, are now resorting to outright lies and propaganda in the public space.
The Committee chairman said given the obvious disconnect between Bayelsa people and the Dickson’s government, no established royal institution, except the Council of Chiefs in Dickson’s Toru-Orua community in Sagbama local government, would truly identify with the PDP’s candidate, Senator Douye Diri.
He urged the Bayelsa people and electorate to ignore the false reports, saying that the Committee has contacted King Sasime, who in denying reports of endorsing Diri, said he only performed his royal duties of blessing any visiting candidate as a father to every Bayelsan son and daughter.
Ikiogha said the Councils of Chiefs were angry with the purported adoption report and urged the public to discountenance it.
The statement by Chief Ikiogha said; “I am a member of the Epie Council of Chiefs and a member of Epie-Atissa Joint Council of Chiefs. I am a political leader in Epie-Atissa and being a member of the Council of Chiefs, I was supposed to be there when the governor visited the Council of Chiefs. But I was unavoidably absent.
“Nevertheless, it has never been in our history that a courtesy call by a governor to a Council of Chiefs would amount to adoption. So, the Epie-Atissa never adopted the PDP candidate at all. When I got the information, I called the king because I know that this one will never happen.
“I know that the APC candidate, David Lyon, is a son to King Sasime. I wanted to know from the king and he said there was nothing like that. I asked the Secretary of the Council and he said there was nothing like that. They only received the governor and his team as the tradition demands.
“People contesting election in the state visit the palace to introduce themselves and tell them they are contesting election and the usual traditional matter is to bless the person. That was what was done.”
Further laughing off what he described as PDP’s desperate antics, Chief Ikiogha said in an extreme situation of endorsing or adopting any candidate for the poll, the Epie-Atissa traditional Council would readily adopt the APC flag-bearer, Chief David Lyon, who is not only a son of the King, but also a beloved resident of the community.